The Proton Iriz is no stranger to us. The car was launched back in 2014 and we have sampled the Iriz in various guises. From the Iriz, Proton developed the all-new Persona, and the company has implemented knowledge gained from the Persona back to the Iriz.
Price: RM58,800(OTR without Insurance)
Engine: 1.6-litre, Inline-4 Transverse, naturally-aspirated
Power: 107hp @ 5,750 rpm
Torque: 150Nm @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: Punch-source CVT, FWD
Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, ESC, ISOFIX, hill-start assist
Origin: Tanjung Malim
To the untrained eye, the 2017 Proton Iriz looks near identical to the model it replaces. However, upon closer inspection, one can spot the range-topping Iriz 1.6 Premium gets blacked-out front upper grille trim, side mirrors, roof and rear spoiler. On top of that, Proton is offering the 2017 Iriz in two new colours – Ruby Red and Carnelian Brown.
Exterior updates aside, the updated Proton Iriz also gets refreshed inside with new seat graphics with red and blue lines running along the seats, an updated Windows CE-based infotainment system, new glossy finish for the gear level, air-con vents trim and infotainment system surround. Elsewhere, the new Iriz also gets some components from the new Persona, including the meter cluster and gear lever for CVT models.
Apart from the visible updates, Proton has also recalibrated the Iriz’s TCU software, allowing the Iriz to achieve maximum velocity sooner than the old model. In layman terms, this means that the CVT is now far more responsive. Then there’s the new 3-mount design for the engine mounts, which theoretically reduces vibrations and harshness from entering the cabin as there are less mounts all together. In the past, the Iriz feature a 4-mount design. The older design is more susceptible to excessive wear, which can cause free-play thus creating more engine vibrations.
Behind the wheel, the new Proton Iriz does not disappoint. Driving dynamics are largely carried over from the earlier model.
The Proton Iriz continues to strike the near perfect balance of ride comfort and handling. Rough surface and pot holes? No worries, the Proton Iriz soaks uneven roads up with relative ease without compromising ride comfort that much.
When the roads become windy, the Proton Iriz continues to shine, as the Iriz’s Electric Power Steering (EPS) is nicely weighted allowing us to tackle corners with confidence. We did notice that driving the Iriz aggressively through corners does yield some body roll, though the car remained surefooted.
The biggest change is the behavior of the CVT and the improved NVH levels. In the past, whenever we floored the throttle of the Iriz, the CVT whine is borderline annoying, with the signature CVT rubberband effect.
However, with the updated TCU software, the CVT now performs considerably better. Whilst the engine rpm does shoot for the redline when floored, the combination of the new TCU software and 3-point engine mount meant that the new Iriz has far less engine noise and harshness entering the cabin.
Drive the 2017 Proton Iriz sedately and it will reward you with a reasonably quiet and comfortable drive. During our time with the Iriz, we spent most of the time cruising on highways, which brought fuel consumption down to 7.8 L/100 km or 12.8 km/L. Bear in mind that the car’s mileage is below the 10,000 km mark. We reckon that as the mileage increases, the fuel economy will improve as well.
The B-segment market is a tough one. On one hand, the new Proton Iriz does in fact offer a much more pleasant driving experience over its predecessor by quite a margin. However, when compared to its rivals, Proton's B-segment hatch still falls short in terms of cabin refinement and driving engagement.
Proton’s key selling features for the Iriz include its hallmark ride and handling on top of its available six airbags, but that strategy may not work long term. Rival car makers are now able to strike the fine balance between ride comfort and handling, whilst offering superior cabin refinement.
As it stands, the Proton Iriz again competes in terms of competitive pricing, as the updated model in its range-topping Premium trim is very well one of the cheapest new car you can buy right now that offers six airbags. On top of that, the Iriz also features an exceptionally rigid body shell, which coupled with the six airbags, allows the Iriz to score the maximum of 5 stars in the Asean NCAP crash test.
In a nutshell, the new Proton Iriz is proof that Proton still has got lots to learn when it comes to cabin refinement. While the new model is a step up from its predecessor, we get the impression that the Iriz still lags behind the competition, though the gap has been shrunk considerably. The Iriz today should have been the Iriz 3 years ago.